Stay Calm And Collected
Panic attacks can seem frightening to witness. You may not be sure what to do when your friend or family member appears unable to control their fear. However, panic attacks are much scarier for the individual experiencing them. The best thing you can do to support your loved one is to stay calm and collected. Remember, the situation is not about you. If you need to talk about it with them, you can do so later, once they have recovered from the episode. In the moment, your focus needs to be on helping them feel safe and giving them the time to calm down.
During a panic attack, an individuals body is being flooded by fear signals. They cannot control their responses to things. It is scary enough to feel out of control, and if those around them also seem panicked, it will just feed into the attack. The best way to convince them there is nothing to be afraid of is by acting as if this is the case. Keep your posture neutral, your voice calm, and your volume low and soothing.
What Triggers An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are unusual, in that they can be triggered under moments of heavy stress or fear, or they can be triggered by nothing at all. Often the first anxiety attack comes at a moment in a personâs life when theyâre experiencing a lot of stress . But future panic attacks can be caused by almost anything:
- Worry that theyll have another panic attack.
- Paying too much attention to how the body feels.
- Absolutely nothing.
Once again, it is because anxiety attacks can seem and feel so random that not everyone that has them even knows or believes that theyre having an anxiety attack. Those that have panic attacks too often may even start to develop other anxiety conditions, such as health anxiety, because of how difficult it is to feel like their anxiety attacks are real.
Not everyone that has an anxiety attack once will have it again, however. Some people only experience an anxiety attack because they are under profound stress and exhaustion, or theyre faced with a dangerous situation. For example, if you almost got into a car accident you may experience a panic attack, but only because your anxiety in that situation was so strong that it was uncontrollable.
But many that have panic attacks will have them again. It depends on the individual.
Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:
- Nausea or stomach cramps.
- Feeling detached or unreal.
Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.
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What Can Trigger Anxiety Attacks
There can be personal reasons why people get triggered and have an anxiety attack. But it can also happen when the person is going through a long stressful period, or if they are going through a traumatic experience.
When a person has too much caffeine, it can also make it easier to have an anxiety attack. If they are going through an illness, or are in a new environment it can also be easier to get an anxiety attack.
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What Not To Do When Assisting Someone With A Panic Attack
Its noteworthy to know there are specific things you should not do when trying to help someone you care about getting through a panic attack. Saying something wrong could make the panic attack worse or last longer.
Here are five things to avoid when helping someone with a panic attack:
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How Do You Ground Someone Having An Anxiety Attack
Luckily these physical grounding techniques can help: Run cool or warm water over your hands and face. Grab onto a chair or pillow as tightly as you can. Touch different objects around you. Focus on your body. If youve ever heard of shaking out your nerves, this technique is similar. Focus on your breathing.
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What Strategies Best Help You When You Are Feeling Anxious
During a panic attack, anxiety sufferers may not remember what to do, such as taking deep breaths, and focusing on each breath. Or he or she may forget that taking an anti-anxiety medication will help. Asking what normally helps can remind them of what to do. Then help him or her take the needed steps to calm the attack.
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How To Identify A Panic Attack
Panic attacks are short and may only last a few minutes, although they can feel like hours when they occur. However, people can find it difficult to differentiate between panic attacks and anxiety-related episodes and dont know how long panic attacks last. Panic attacks often are misunderstood by those experiencing them as heart attacks, as they can cause powerful physical sensations.1 They can come out of nowhere and usually get triggered by any situation perceived as overly stressful.
Panic attacks are simply heightened anxiety. They are temporary and harmless, typically lasting 10-15 minutes. The definition of a panic attack is: the catastrophic interpretation of the normal body sensations of anxiety. This means that the person having the panic attack is interpreting the normal body sensations of anxiety as dangerous in some way, which drives them up. This causes the spike of anxiety to turn into a panic attack.Dr. Andrea Kulberg, PhD, CEDS
It is not clear what cognitive process causes panic disorders. Genetics, acute stress, stress-sensitive temperaments, negative emotional development, and brain functioning are all contributors.2
Help Them Stay Grounded
Grounding techniques can have benefit for a range of anxiety issues, including panic attacks.
Grounding techniques can help contain panic attacks after they begin, explains Megan MacCutcheon, a therapist in Vienna, Virginia.
These techniques help the person focus on whats actually happening, not their fear of the attack. Theyre often most helpful once the intensity of the attack has faded a bit.
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Focus On Action Over Words
A soothing, familiar voice helps some people, but try to avoid repeatedly saying things like dont worry or asking them if theyre alright over and over.
Of course you mean well, but your words may not have much benefit in the moment. They can also make the situation more stressful, since your loved one may believe theyre doing something wrong by not being alright.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is defined as anxiety that grows worse over time and is more than just the occasional challenge or normal reaction to everyday circumstances. It is anxiety or fear of anxiety that interferes with everyday life, causes needless pain, and ultimately sucks the enjoyment out of living. Anxiety disorders do more than just annoy they also make it harder to work, enjoy our relationships with loved ones, or function in society.
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Focus On Your Breathing
Concentrate on your breathing. Dont hold your breath, but breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to 5. Then breathe slowly out your mouth as you count to 5.
Keep focusing on your breathing for as long as you need to. If breathing and counting doesnt work for you, there are lots of other breathing techniques you can try.
Focus on whats around you. Remind yourself that youre having a panic attack and that it cant hurt you.
Try holding onto something or tasting chewing gum to help keep you grounded. Try naming:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch or feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste.
It can be tempting to try and leave or avoid the situation, but try not to. Stay where you are and keep focusing on things here and now until you feel calmer.
Focus on reminding yourself that:
- anxiety cant harm me
- I am in control.
Having a panic attack can leave you feeling tired or drained. Give yourself time afterwards to sit somewhere quietly, or to have something to eat or drink.
Talk about it
Talking can really help. Telling someone you trust can give you a chance to explain whats happened and let your feelings out.
If youre starting to worry about having panic attacks in the future, its important to get support. You can ask your doctor for help or talk to a Childline counsellor about anything thats happening.
Write things down
Talking To A Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with a health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Find tips to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit at Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider. For additional resources, including questions to ask a provider, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves,call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
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Support Them To Seek Help
If you think your friend or family member’s anxiety is becoming a problem for them, you could encourage them to seek treatment by talking to a GP or therapist. You could:
- Offer to help them arrange a doctor’s appointment. If they are scared of leaving the house, you could suggest they ring their GP to find out if they will do home visits and telephone appointments.
- Offer support when they attend appointments. You could offer to go with them to their appointments and wait in the waiting room. You can also help them plan what they’d like to talk about with the doctor. See our page on talking to your GP for more information.
- Help them seek help from a therapist. See our page on how to find a therapist for more information.
- Help them research different options for support, such as community services or peer support groups such as those run by Anxiety UK and No Panic. See our useful contacts page for more information. You could also call Mind’s Infoline to find out more about local services.
See our page on helping someone else seek help for more information.
How Can You Help A Friend Who May Be Suffering From Panic Disorder Is There A Way To Help Yourself
What are the five ways to help someone having a panic attack?
Here are some helpful ideas that you came up with.
What is the best medication for test anxiety?
8. For more severe anxiety, medications called as the beta-blockers can be helpful. These are used to treat blood pressure and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
How do I help my friend with anxiety?
Try these suggestions:
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Breathing Exercise For Panic Attacks
If youre breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms. Try this:
- breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose
- breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth
- some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath
- close your eyes and focus on your breathing
You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.
Why Do I Get Panic Attacks For No Reason
Have you recently felt that you have had a panic attack for no reason? Do you get panic attacks and cant understand why they happen?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders groups panic attacks into two categories – expected or unexpected. If you feel as though you have had a panic attack for no reason, it is likely that you have experienced one that would be considered unexpected.
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When To Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention if a panic attack does not subside or gets worse or more frequent. Breathing issues associated with a panic attack can also turn into hyperventilation which can lead to an increase in heart rate called tachycardia. When this happens, the heart is pumping so quickly that it may not be able to move blood throughout the body.
Because of these physical responses, the line between a panic attack versus a heart attack is difficult to distinguish. It is good to learn the differences between the two in case you may need to receive more serious medical attention. For either, immediately seeing a doctor is the best choice to avoid worsening medical conditions.
Helping To Manage A Panic Attack
We have outlined a few options to help a loved one reach a state of calm while experiencing a panic attack. Please know that NAMI does not endorse any particular suggestion provided below. If someone you know is experiencing a panic attack, they may become very anxious and might not be thinking clearly. You may be able to help them by doing the following:
- Stay in communication with them speak calmly and gently in short, simple sentences.
- Ask if there is medicine the person usually takes during a panic attack.
- Donât make assumptions about what your loved one needs, ask them.
- Help your loved one slow their breathing by breathing with them. Speaking slowly in a reassuring tone, say: Were going to focus on your breathing right now.Just do your best to take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Hold that breath for a moment Now slowly exhale through your mouth. Now another slow, deep breath in. Hold it And again, slowly exhale through your mouth.
- If the panic attack continues, ask: Has this happened to you in the past? What has helped you in the past?
- If your loved one is unable to identify what has worked in the past, offer help in a way that gives them agency. Example: I know a technique that helps with panic attacks. Would you like to try the technique with me?
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What Are Some Treatments For Someone Experiencing Anxiety
Anxiety has been a diagnosable condition for many years, and there has been no shortage of potential treatments to deal with this debilitating condition. Thankfully, while the number of treatment options can seem overwhelming, there are also a variety of potential sources to find help. This includes the National Mental Health Hotline, which can be reached at 866-903-3787. Other resources include:
Try Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Another symptom of panic attacks is muscle tension. Practicing muscle relaxation techniques may help limit an attack. This is because if the mind senses that the body is relaxing, other symptoms such as rapid breathing may also diminish.
A technique called progressive muscle relaxation is a popular method for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
This involves tensing up and then relaxing various muscles in turn. To do this:
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Dos And Donts When Someone Is Having An Anxiety Attack
Do not ask them to calm down but do listen to them with empathy.
Since the start of pandemic, there has been an exponential rise in people experiencing mental health challenges across the world. According to a study, there were 375,000 Google searches for anxiety between March and May of last year alone. This is because for many, this is the first time theyre confronted with challenges like anxiety and depression, and dont know what to do when they or someone close to them is experiencing it.
An anxiety attack can be a very scary experience and handling it correctly can go a long way in calming the person down. With the help of Panneer, Re:Set has put together a list of dos and donts to help calm someone having an anxiety attack.